For the latest edition of the Adda, PIC was pleased to host Dr. R. R. Gangakhedkar, Former Head Scientist, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for a talk on “COVID Vaccines: Learnings for Industries and Academia” on 20th February. The session was Chaired by Dr. Amitav Mallik, Trustee, PIC and moderated by Dr. Sangeeta Kale, Member, PIC.

Dr. Gangakhedkar’s talk was accompanied by a detailed presentation. He noted that with the advent of the pandemic came harsh new realities that everyone had to learn to adapt to. The first of these was non-pharmacological interventions, such as the wearing of masks and washing of hands. Testing of potential treatment drugs was met with a series of failures, as health and scientific teams across the globe worked to find solutions to contain the pandemic. This led to the focus on developing a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus. In this regard, Dr. Gangakhedkar highlighted that it took a lot of time to develop an effective vaccine; however, the Covid-19 vaccine was developed in ten months. The shorter time period was due to parallel clinical trials being undertaken. The new Covid vaccine development approaches were based on old technology. The experience with vaccine development under such tight timelines had brought to light the need to invest in developing newer, more efficient methods of vaccine development. Dr. Gangakhedkar emphasised that the mRNA platform appeared promising and might impact other vaccines delivered in the future.

The talk was followed by a Q & A session with the audience.